Friday, 18 March 2011

'play' at the core of the lean start up

At the Play Mob, we make games to make people smarter. Our games link fun game play and game mechanics to real world action. Games are fun. When having fun we are motivated and want to succeed, we want to gain experience and points, level up and progress the game to win, to reach that ultimate goal.

Creating games made us think about how we operate a lean start up. We know a lot about how to make a good game, so why not turn our every day thinking and operating of the business to be like, well, playing a game with real rewards. So we got to work on looking at gameplay mechanics and all that good stuff and how we can apply it to the every day running of the business.....

Firstly we don't talk about money. This is crazy, you may say! Of course we operate with a good accounting system and we know the status of the business but money is not used as an incentive. Money triggers the primitive areas of our brain. Just like food. When we think about money 2 things can happen 1) we focus so much on having it we completely miss what we have to do to actually get it and 2) it makes us silly, we can do silly things and our perception of the tasks at hand and the goals, are blurry. Both of these are bad for the business and will prevent winning the ultimate goal.

It's important the team have the long term vision, not the short term quick fix, and for this we need committed dedicated people who are there through good and bad times. So to avoid this lethal over use of the 'M' word, we create a scoring system to place cash in a game mechanic. We view funds as a scoring system. We earn funds via client projects similar to gaining points. We know what we must do to take the business to the next level, and making this leap we level up. Having a team of avid gamers, we are all focussed on that ultimate goal, and sharing the vision.

Legal and contracting can also be viewed as a game mechanic. Within a game a player does what they can to protect their position from a multitude of things that can go wrong. In business we have lawyers to assist us with this. Game players need to receive feedback in the game to understand how well they are doing or what they need to change to improve. In business we need to give the team feedback so we can all become better in our roles. If playing an MMO you may have to find a mentor to guide you and advise you in the game. In business we have mentors, coaches, advisory boards and other people who have been there before, who have the experience they can impart on you to help you succeed.

Working in this way allows us to be super resourceful, efficient and motivated, operating our lean start up in fun, fast and manageable way.

Our current game play status is level 1, we are raising investment to take us to level 2. Level 2 takes us to growth and taking our product to Market and making it scalable. Level 1 has been getting the right people in place, doing research, iterating designs and business models and testing the idea in the Market. It's time to launch into level 2 and onwards to level 3, 4, final goal, exit!

For more info on running a lean start up my favourite sites are Eric Ries's and Steve Blank's and I also love Dave McLures

Do you have a lean start up you want to shout about? Go to to find out for about a very cool competition with amazing prizes........

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The Time Warp

I have been meaning to start a blog for, well, a few years. My excuse, 'I just don't have time'. Really? OK so I thought today I would, and why? Because I found myself in some sort of time warp. Starting with a discrepancy of 1 hour, I managed to get this down to a discrepancy of 6 minutes. And that was only in 2 days. My time warp started on Saturday evening.

I was having a relaxed night as the next day I was up early (for a Sunday) to take a trip to the Elemis spa, a lovely birthday treat I received from friends for my birthday in June (and why did it take me so long to get around to using this gift? 'I just don't have time!). My appointment was at 10am, which would mean I would have to leave my house at 9am to get into the city. I set my alarm for 8am, but made sure before I jumped into bed, that my clock was set an hour behind and my setting was on manual to ensure no sneaky automatic updating while I sleep. I also had a friend staying and she didn't set her phone an hour behind, but set her alarm for 9am and took off automatic too.

Sunday morning, I wake up refreshed having that whole extra hour, got ready, my friend got up, got ready and we both skipped down to the station to get a train around 8.55am. But, the train times say 9.55am. It can't be, the clocks must be wrong. After consultation with other passengers watches and bewildered looks between me and my friend, it sank in that it was now 10am, and my appointment was 10am! So much for a relaxed day as we raced as fast as we could through Waterloo, onto the tube and flying down New Bond Street like we were late for a mid week meeting. I arrived feeling disheveled, a little disappointed at loosing some time off my nice relaxing treatments and still somewhat out of sorts how time could play such nasty tricks on me!

This did off course have something to do with the clocks going back for winter (and technology and settings and trusting that when everything looks like it is a certain time - trains, TV, other people's watches, chances are they are probably in the right), but it also threw up some ideas in my head again about time and what it means and how we deal with time.

Last year I read a book called The Time Paradox by Philip Zimbardo and John Boyd. I would highly recommend this book to everyone, no matter which time warp you are in. The book in summary analyses our perception of time and how this effects our lives. If you live in the past chances are you dwell on previous happenings, if you live in the present you live for the day (and the weekend) and if you live in the future chances are you are constantly chasing future time, which may or may not come.

Ideally a balance of the 3 is what we should try and achieve. More and more I am practising how to understand more about me in my past so I can 'get out of my own way' (again another great book 'Get Out of Your Own Way' by Mark Goulston and and Philip Goldberg), give myself and make time to live in the present and take time out to relax, while knowing where I want to be in the future, setting goals and working out what I need to do to achieve these goals and what could be in my way.

So now still in a warp, my computer is 6 minutes behind my phone. When I look at my phone then go back to my PC, I feel I have gained a whole 6 minutes. So all day I have been determined to make this count, hence why I decided to make today the day I begin my blog. So I will leave you with this, make sure you make your time count, whether you are stuck in a time warp or not :o)